MEDIA STATEMENT: Budget will hurt Australia's ailing foreign aid program, Wednesday 6 May 2015

 

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

THE HON MATT THISTLETHWAITE MP
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR IMMIGRATION
SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
MEMBER FOR KINGSFORD SMITH

 

BUDGET WILL HURT AUSTRALIA’S AILING FOREIGN AID PROGRAM

Labor fears next week’s Budget will do nothing to help Australia’s ailing foreign aid program, with critical programs facing the axe so Tony Abbott can save his job.

After more than $11 billion of cuts, the Abbott Government’s foreign aid program is now the weakest in Australian history.

This reflects the failure of the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, to stand up and be counted at the Cabinet table.

We expect Tony Abbott’s upcoming Budget to reveal just how deep the aid cuts will be, country by country.

This will be devastating news for some of the world’s poorest nations, including many neighbours in our region.

At every single one of the Abbott Government’s economic updates, the cut to Australia’s aid program has grown.

There were cuts in the 2013 mid-year update, more cuts in the 2014 Budget, and more cuts again in the 2014 mid-year update – now totaling more than $11 billion.

Under the Abbott Government, by 2016, Australia will spend just 22 cents in every $100 of our national income on foreign aid – the lowest ever.  Over the next decade, that is set to decline further, to 18 cents in every $100.

The cuts are a clear breach of Tony Abbott’s pre-election promise to grow the foreign aid budget in line with the Consumer Price Index.

This Budget is all about saving Tony Abbott’s job - not about doing what’s right for the future.

The Abbott Government’s dishonesty and incompetence is still hurting Australia – it’s hurting the most vulnerable and hurting Australia’s international reputation as a good global citizen.

In response to the cuts that fall in the next year (2015-16) alone, a number of charities have been forced to axe critical projects in at least 24 of the world’s poorest countries.

As a result, World Vision estimates that 1.3 million people will miss out on essential services - and that’s just for their own programs, in just the next year.  Tony Abbott's $11 billion of cuts means there are many more years of cuts to come, and that millions more people will miss out.

Child protection, domestic violence, HIV, health, education, and clean water projects are set to go, and Tony Abbott’s dishonesty is putting regional security at risk too.

Leading think tank, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), says that reducing deprivation and inequality in our region delivers significant strategic benefits to Australia.

ASPI warns that the Abbott Government’s cuts to foreign aid could lead to civil unrest in nearby Pacific Island states.

It’s clear the aid cuts are all about a short term Budget fix to save Tony Abbott’s job, and nothing about doing what’s right for Australia’s future.


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